Of Redlines and Trannys
We had a lot of fun in the last GT5Cheats online get-together. If you get a chance to join the crew there, you’ll have a hoot and maybe learn a few things here and there.
As we raced, and I use that term loosely, around in 2CVs and then go-karts, it occurred to me that a bit of info on transmission settings might be in order. First some explanation and then some principles.
I grew up in the era of muscle cars. Mustangs, Super Bees, Camaros were all the rage. The Beach Boys sang about 409s and Little Deuce Coupes. Friends of mine, two crazy brothers, had a Dodge Monaco with a 383 V8 that they’d set up for street drag racing.
It had lots of horsepower but a very high numerical rear end in it, something like 4.11. It did the quarter mile, carefully measured out between paint lines on the Long Swamp Road, in under 12 seconds but its top speed was only around 80 mph at best. Let’s say it was OK for city driving but useless for highway cruising.
How could they have changed the top speed? A simple rear end gear swap would have raised the top speed and lengthened the quarter mile time. What does this have to do with GT5? If you think of the high numerical rear end example above, you’ll see how ‘final drive ratio’ affects your speed.
Every track on GT5 requires different transmission settings in order to give the best performance for your car. How do you figure out what the right setting is? I use the tachometer (tach) to do the tuning for me. At the end of the longest straight, or just before the end, you’ll want to see the tach needle bounce once or twice into the red zone.
Everyone pretty much knows the ‘tranny trick’ right? Set everything to default, move final drive ratio all the way to the right then move the bottom top speed slider all the way to the left. Stop there, head over to the practice area and pick the course you want to experiment on. See if you have RPMs available at the end of the longest straight. If you do, move the final drive ratio slider to the left to increase the top speed. Take the car out again and see how it performs. Bouncing the needle at the end of the longest straight means everything is set up correctly, at least as far as the transmission is concerned.
There are exceptions to all of this, of course. Top speed isn’t everything, just as acceleration isn’t everything. What you’re shooting for is a happy medium, one that will see you first at the end of the race.
Two tracks come to mind, OK three. The Daytona oval, the kart track at Eifel and, finally, Sarthe. Here’s how I set up for these three tracks:
1. The Daytona oval requires horsepower, lots of it, to get up to the highest top speed. Daytona is different from any other track because you don’t accelerate much, if at all. The variables on it are your tires, other drivers and how you position yourself in the pack. If these things work for you, you’ll have a better chance of winning. Hitting the wall or another car or spinning out means you’ll have to start all over again because you’ll never catch the leaders. Tuning for Daytona involves trading acceleration for top speed, but you’d better hope that nothing gets in your way to slow you down.
2. For the Eifel kart track, or any other kart track for that matter, acceleration is king. As a matter of fact, you’ll probably want the tach needle to bounce a bit more than on any other type of circuit. The single straight is very short and the corners come fast and furious from start to finish. Adjust your final drive ratio accordingly.
3. Sarthe is an anomaly, isn’t it? Far fewer corners than the ‘Ring but a straight that seems to go on and on. You’ll want to tune for top speed to stay competitive here. Sarthe is a long course with sweeping corners and one low speed chicane and only one 90 degree turn but four, long high-speed straights. Tune for the straights, bounce the needle at the end and you’ll probably place first.
The biggest tip I can give is to tune for the straights and get to know each track. As soon as you head into a race, the longest straight number is right in front of you. Why is it there? To give you a chance to tune for that track, that’s why.
If you’re super keen on keeping your win percentage up, make good use of the practice area. You can adjust settings and check times there without affecting your win percentage. Ultimately, nothing else matters but lap speed, right? Top speed, 0-60, late braking, early braking, all of this is irrelevant if your time is 1/100th of a second less than the winner. I’ll discuss some other variables and track tunings in a future article.